Pantelleria Island

History

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History

Pantelleria's long history is due to its geographical position and is directly connected to the sea. The Sesioti came in 5,000 B.C. to extract and work obsidian.
This black, shiny, sharp vitrified lava was considered as gold in the stone age. Interesting remains of this population still exist in the Mursia area: defensive walls, foundations of old homes, and, most important, megalithic funeral monuments called 'Sesi'. The Phoenicians arrived in Pantelleria sometime during the IX th century B.C.; they first called it Yranim and later Cossyra. This was the beginning of the island's golden age, for these people planted grapes, issued coins with the Goddess Tanit's image, built water tanks in several areas, strongholds at San Marco, a temple by the lake 'Specchio di Venere', and the first harbour, remains of which are still visible. Then came the Romans, who reinforced all the strngholds, followed by the Byzantines, who greatly improved living conditions. The Arabs landed on the island around 700 A.C. and remained until 1200 A.C. Their culture had a very strong influence on Pantelleria and its presence is still evident. The Arabs called this island al-Quasayra, (name still used by the Berbers of North Africa for Pantelleria), then Bent-el- rion, daughter of thewind.... They created the 'dammusi' (from the Arab: vaulted structure), typical houses built with lava blocks and a dome roof to collect rain. They also introduced the cultivation of cotton and olives, improved the cultivation of zibibbo grapes and built the abmirable fortified city of Pantelleria (unfortunately almost completely destroyed during the 2nd World War), around the 'Castello Barbacane'. Next came the Normans, followed by the Swabians, the Angevins, the Aragonese and the Bourbons. In 1860 Pantelleria was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy and has shared its historical vicissitudes up until the present.